Heaven on earth. A beautiful land withering under the impact of political unrest. A gorgeous holiday destination. These are some of the phrases that come to mind when people hear the name Jammu & Kashmir. But there’s one man in the valley whose dream is to add to the list, ‘the home of an India national cricketer’.
Parvez Rasool, the 24-year-old all-rounder from J&K is determined to put his state on the map of Indian cricket. And while he has a long, long way to go, Rasool is taking the steps in the right direction.
He topped the runs (594) and wickets (33) chart for J&K in the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy, went to the Team India nets and bowled to the likes of MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina and others, picked 7 for 45 against the touring Australians and bagged an IPL contract with the Pune Warriors.
In a chat with iplt20.com ahead of the 2013 season, Rasool tried to put in words the incredible few months he’s had on the cricket field. The emotions exuded by his voice changed as the topic did.
There was nostalgia when he reminisced going to the cricket field as a kid to watch his father play cricket. Gratefulness and respect came to the fore respectively when he spoke of his childhood coach, Abdul Qayuum and the current J&K mentor, Bishen Singh Bedi.
There was a quiet confidence and determination in the way Rasool talked about his game and passion took over when the young man shared his dream of becoming a beacon of inspiration to the young boys of Kashmir to make it big in cricket.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview.
How are you coping with the pace with which your life has moved in the last few months?
I thank God for all this first and foremost. There haven’t been many players from Jammu & Kashmir coming into cricket but hopefully I will be able to change that. I performed well in the Ranji Trophy; picked up 33 wicket and scored 594 runs which led to a call to play for India A and now the IPL. I cannot describe the feeling in words.
You have become an overnight success story culminating with an IPL contract. But how did it all begin for you?
My father [Ghulam Rasool] was a well known cricketer and played for the district. He used to take me with him when he went to play. That’s how I got into the game. Later I came across Abdul Qayuum, who has been a very reputed cricketer from J&K. He’s the highest wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy from our state and has also played for North zone. I began playing cricket after watching him. He’s been my role-model and also my childhood coach.
How was it growing up in the Valley as an aspiring cricketer?
There is not a great infrastructure for cricket in Jammu & Kashmir as there is in other parts of India. And since we don’t get as many facilities as the boys from other states, we need to work harder than them. For proper facilities, we go to places like Delhi to play cricket. This life is very different for me.
Not many young spinners have managed to impress Bishen Singh Bedi. But he has had some very nice things to say about you.
Bedi sir has a very huge impact on my game. All the credit for my bowling goes only to him. The first time he came to join Jammu and Kashmir team (as the coach), he just saw me bowling in the nets – he hadn’t even seen me perform in a real match – and he told me, ‘you’re the best off-spinner of Jammu & Kashmir and you have the ability to one day play for India. He said that my action is very clean and the release is perfect. I have learnt a lot from him about flighting the ball and deceiving the batsman in various ways. He has worked really hard on my bowling.
How was the experience of bowling to the Team India batsmen in the nets?
I spoke a lot with [Suresh] Raina bhai and he gave me some useful advice in terms of the angles a batsman doesn’t like the ball to come to him at and other things. That net session with the Indian team was a big learning experience for me.
How do you think the IPL will help your cricketing career grow?
Being part of the IPL is a massive step forward for me. If I do well there my road to the national team will get easier.
You haven’t played many Twenty20s so far. Do you reckon altering the classical attributes of your bowling like flight and loop in the shortest format?
I know I will have to change my bowling style and tactics to suit the T20 format when I play in the IPL. I have been working on that aspect now since the domestic limited overs tournaments are on. It will be challenging for me to strike a balance among all three formats. I’ll have to ensure that my bowling in one format doesn’t suffer because of the other. Once you start bowling in T20s, you get into the T20 rhythm. I will have to practise a lot to find that balance and I will.
What’s the biggest thing that you want to achieve with your cricket?
I want to fly J&K’s flag high in Indian cricket and show the world that even our state has the ability and we too can produce good cricketers for India. We have many talented players currently at senior and age group levels who have it in them to play at the higher levels. I want them to get a chance as well.